Here's Maaaaario: Mario Cantone hits Hard Rock Live

TelevisionEntertainmentMusicMario CantoneDon JohnsonSusan HaywardTelevision Industry

Mario Cantone brings his comedy act – a twisted romp through pop culture and song parody – to Hard Rock Live at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood Thursday, Oct. 11 night at 8.

The star of the Tony-nominated one-man show “Laugh Whore” is best recognized as the wedding-planner-with-attitude on the HBO and feature-film franchise “Sex and the City.” Broadway fans know him for his critically lauded turns in “Assassins,” “Love! Valor! Compassion!” and “The Tempest.”

Speaking of Broadway, Cantone plans on taking his current show all the way to the Great White Way in 2013. In a quick Q&A, we started talking about his impersonations – now somewhat of a branded shtick – of Liza Minnelli and Judy Garland:

Mario: In ‘Laugh Whore,’ I did them separately, now I bring them together. I didn’t even realize I was doing a duet with them until I was in Canada at Just for Laughs [comedy festival]. I did five nights in a theater there. I didn’t know I had a one-man show until then. I put a tune in here and there. I got Harold Lubin, who helped me with music in ‘Laugh Whore,’ to write a brand-new one. For this show, there is a lot of new stuff – experiences in my life, TV, pop culture, reality shows that people want me to talk about. There’s a lot of music in it. Bruce Springsteen makes an appearance. A lot of good stuff. Everyone says, ‘You‘ve got to do another one.’ It’s exhausting. It’s a lot of work.”

Rod: OK, I’m going to ask a question now.

Mario: G’head.

Rod: Were you a class clown in high school?

Mario: No, I don’t know if I was a class clown. But I was definitely always performing in talent shows and plays and every high school musical. I hated high school. Ugh. I couldn’t wait until it was over so I could sleep in. In college, I made sure all my classes were in the afternoon. I hated getting up in the morning. My mom would scream, “Maaaaario!” It was like I had the weirdest alarm clock ever. “Maaaaario!” I would always make the bus at the last minute. And if the bus came, and I wasn’t ready she would make sure that bus waited for me. She would run out in a terry-cloth robe with her hair looking like Susan Hayward in “I Want To Live!” Then, I had to get on the bus with everyone staring at me and asking, “Was that your mom?”

Rod: You get along with the women from “Sex and the City”?

Mario: I got along with Kim Cattrall. She was one of my best friends. I love her. I get along with Sarah [Jessica Parker]. I see her and her husband [Matthew Broderick] a lot at Broadway events and parties. We have a lot of the same friends. Kristen [Davis] lives in L.A., so I don’t really see her. Cynthia [Nixon] I’ve known since 1998 … and I wasn’t even on until the third season. I only did 12 episodes.

Rod: What’s the worst thing you ever said onstage?

Mario: I’ll say it was a show at the Improv when I was just starting. It was about 1 a.m., and there were three or four people in the whole place. I did this bit about Bambi … about every Disney villain. I asked, “Do you know who every villain in a Disney film is?” There are two tables in the whole place. I’m not kidding: two tables. And I start screaming, “Man! Man is the villain! Man killed Bambi’s mother! Man!” And I start screaming at them, “You! You killed Bambi’s mother!” This one woman got up and went to the bathroom. Now, there are three people in the whole friggin’ place. She came up to me afterward and said, “Two weeks ago my mother was killed on a road trying to avoid a deer.” You can’t write this [stuff]. It’s one story I will never forget.

Rod: What comedy bit did you think would not go over well but then it killed?

Mario: I did this bit about Michael Jackson getting a nose job, and it was getting smaller and smaller and smaller. I made this buzzing sound as Michael was changing his mind, saying “This one is too small. This one is too pinched.” And now, he has a clitoris for a nose. People came unglued. I didn’t know it was going to shock the audience like it did. It killed.

Rod: Is there more TV- or movie-acting in your future?

Mario: I love doing scripted things. What little acting ability I have I am holding on with my hangnails. I can do the tough Italian or play the straight guy before anyone knew who I was. Something like a doctor or a lawyer, I don’t want to play that. If you do “Law and Order,” your lines are all exposition: “I saw him down the street, and he had a red cap on.” Who cares? Michael Patrick King [“Sex and the City,” “2 Broke Girls”] wrote a great part for me and Don Johnson called “A Mann’s World.” It was this great one-hour thing that they didn’t pick up, so I was in bed for six months, riddled with anxiety and depression. It was a great role he wrote just for me. It was about this aging hairdresser. Ellen Barkin was in it. Sandra Vergara, Sophia’s little sister was in it. I’ve got to tell you, Don Johnson was just great in it. He really was.

Rod: I used to watch your cable-access children’s show “Steampipe Alley” during Fashion Week in New York. It was hysterical and little sick. People would videotape it in Chelsea and send it to me in the South.

Mario: It was filthy. I would say the filthiest things. One day, I accidentally said, [f---] in front of the children. And these two mean little girls told their mom, who was the producer. I just said it was an accident.

Rod: What job will you simply refuse to do?

Mario: I won’t do reality. That is done. And I don’t want people following me around with a camera 24 hours a day. I do a 90-minute show and sometimes even longer. What do I need that for? [This] whole show is about my journey. You know that part about my mother that I just told you isn’t in the show, and it should be. It’s funny.

Tickets range from $39 to $69. To reserve go to Ticketmaster.com or charge by phone 1-800-745-3000 (additional fees may apply). Doors open on hour prior to show start-time.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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